I have been working hard recently to build up my collection of hand made jewellery pieces. At the moment I seem to spend about 60% of my time at the design stage and only 40% at the bench. I am trying to improve this but likewise I do not wish to dilute the originality content of the design process. Thus far -to the best of my knowledge – I have not copied anyone, and that is how I intend to carry on. The feed back that I am getting from my customers is that they are happy with my work and it gives them added pleasure knowing that what they are wearing is either a ‘one of a kind’ item exclusive or, one of a Limited Edition number of pieces.
If anyone would like me quote them for some special individual and personal pieces for themselves or as a special gift to a loved one, please don’t hesitate to contact me. You can email me atInfo@markantonyjewellery.com and I will contact you by return. You can come up with your own specific design or, if you wish, I will be happy to design something especially for you, and this means of course, that there will be no other like it available anywhere, it will be totally bespoke just for you. Moreover, we can use all original precious metals supplied by ourselves or alternatively, if you currently own pieces that you no longer wear we would be pleased to look at them and see if it is possible to re-work the piece into a completely new design.
We have a shop on Etsy where a number of our pieces may be purchased or alternative contact us at the above email address for alternative methods of purchase.
Many of my readers will recall that I have used this phrase before on a number of occasions. It comes from another fellow Sagittarius Sir Winston Churchill and, it was his term that he used when he was having a particularly bad day with depression. Now I have always tried to be an open book, what you see is what you get, which on a number of occasions in the past haven’t been too helpful. Especially when I was working in a highly political corporation like CBS. I learnt a lot from my American colleagues, not least how to get ahead while others lost theirs! And that can be quite stressful when one has always led their life like an open book. I just found it a nicer way to live, you didn’t have to tell lies, and then remember the lies that you had told and who you told them to, I just wasn’t that clever. I would always take the easy way out and call a spade a spade, those who understood the way I was, accepted that and we got on fine. (That didn’t mean that I was cruel in any way, if I thought a particular instance of honesty would hurt the person, then obviously I would leave it). Those who didn’t like it could go and please themselves, an open-book I was, but never afraid of confrontation! It certainly didn’t hinder my career and I was promoted to all the positions that I aimed for and always gave the best I could. If I liked what someone was doing I told them so, likewise if I didn’t like what they were doing I also told them. That usually didn’t go down that well with my fellow managers, but what the heck….if it was the truth what were they gonna do about it?
However, there were and still are days when The old Black Dog comes by. Usually for no apparent reason. One just finds one’s self much quieter and not so ready with the witticism. Thinking negative thoughts instead of being the positive person one has always tried to be. Having said that, I’m old enough now to know how to get out of that state of mind (most of there time that is!) Subsequently by the end of my day I have managed to turn myself around and anyway, yesterday was a great day, a productive day.
My Day at The Bench
I had to take my wife for an appointment with her Consultant yesterday at a Hospital 30 miles away. I was all ready and had made all the necessary arrangements, but as it happened she was too ill to travel and at 8.30am she asked me to phone and rearrange the appointment, which I duly did. She then went to sleep for the rest of the day, but considering she was trying to cope with chronic pain still at 5.30am I wasn’t surprised. This meant that I now had a free day and as long as I didn’t leave the house (why would I want to?) I could do whatever I wanted to do. Hence, my day at the bench. And boy did I know it by the time I clocked off.
My day consisted of trying out the old ‘Wet Tissue Paper in the ingot mould’ trick, suggested by Jewellery Maker Teacher supreme Andrew Berry . I particularly wanted try this because I had ready only a small amount of Silver scrap to melt down, plus I had the idea that I wanted to make a piece of square wire no more than 100mm long x 1.5mm square. To cut a long story short, it worked to perfection and after a slow natural cooling of period I proceeded to produce the wire in my Durston rolling mill. I say slow natural cooling opposed to quenching because in the past I have had some problems with the wire/ingot cracking, and I have found that if I let the metal molecules reassemble themselves naturally, I don’t see so many cracks and fissures.
However, the reason I wanted the wire was because I wanted to make a square-wire heart. I didn’t find it particularly easy but it was very rewarding even though the ‘semi’ finished product wasn’t perfect.
But I was relatively happy with the outcome. My next task is to affix a small tube-setting with a stone/gem yet to be chosen and if I can get it up to standard, put it on my Etsy account for sale!
Another area of jewellery making that I have come to find both challenging and rewarding is Spoon Rings. Very popular in America but I don’t think the interest is as popular in the UK. At least, I haven’t seen as many Silversmiths selling them as I have in the States. One of the problems I find is that it is difficult to find good quality sterling silver flatware in Wales, and I think that a number of my friends in the trade have confirmed this. One Jeweller who I have mentioned before here, and who is quite the expert at making quality Jewellery from silver spoons is Ginger Meek-Allen however, Ginger produces more lockets than rings, and you should visit her site for an example of some of the beauties she has produced. Moreover, because of Ginger’s influence I spotted this book on Amazon just this week and it is a little treasure trove of information on Spoons!
Ok chaps and chappesses, that’s me for another day. Please be kind enough to like (that’s if you did like of course) and click on the follow button at the top which will activate an email to your inbox on the publication of every new blog post (that’s if you would like to read more ramblings of course) 🙂
Well it’s seems like an age since I last posted, so I thought my snippet of a Chepstow Castle door (which dates back to the 11th Century) would be an apt header!
I would just like to wish all my new friends on WordPress Blogs (and any other Blogs for that matter) a very happy Christmas and a healthy & prosperous New Year.
The weather in Wales is much like the rest of the UK at the moment there are floods everywhere, and more rain than we have had in a 100 years. But it doesn’t appear to have deterred the shoppers, from the TV news I see that the High Street and the Internet have all had a last minute boost to their sales. And good luck to them – it didn’t come from my house!
I have a number of plans for the New Year, whether they will come to fruition or not is another thing. One never knows what is around the corner, good or bad? But if all goes according to plan, I intend to finally publish my PhotoBook on “My Time with the King of Skiffle“. I have quite a lot of unpublished pics of Lonnie Donegan (Does your Chewing gum Lose its Flavour) during the time I was with him from about 1968 to 1973. I am sure there will not be a lot of interest out there, but I know there is a click of hard fans who would welcome it. Besides, I feel it would be a shame if the pics didn’t see the light of day.
I also have a number of photos, also unpublished of other entertainers which I guess would be another book. Pics of ABBA during their sound check at the Royal Albert Hall in 1978. I was the only photographer allowed in – all down to CBS Clout – nothing to do with photography skills. And lots of photos taken at private gatherings, none of which I will mention here because I am not a ‘PAP’ and I will ask permission to publish, just out of politeness really.
I was having a couple of weeks break over the past fortnight and decided to try and digitise some more of my slides & negs. However, I didn’t have that much success!
One of my main problems is this. For as long as I can remember I have been a Nikon user, so much so that when I needed a slide and negative scanner, I automatically chose a Nikon. And very good it has been as well except, when I tried to update the software and drivers etc, I was very politely informed that Nikon do not make scanners anymore and hence, there is no updates to the software! Now I fully understand about product loyalty, but I wonder what the head(s) at Nikon think about Customer Loyalty? Or does that not exist anymore at that level? Perhaps they expect their distributors to handle that tricky end of the deal!
Having said all that, here is a dreadful pic of a wonderful occasion. The original slide is perfect but the scan which I had to do on my all-in-one ain’t so good. The occasion was the first photo session of a brand new idea and invention in percussion, specifically Arbiter Auto-Tune Drums. This pic shows l-to-r, Ivor Arbiter the inventor and Music Industry legend, me (with a droop face as I am suffering from Bells Palsy at the time) and the great Carl Palmer, he of ELP holding a Snare Drum. Carl was a tremendous help during the final stages of testing the equipment, as was many other fine drummers including Jon Hiseman who toured the kit all over Europe with his various bands, Coliseum II. and Tempest with the late and great Irish guitarist Gary Moore. I guess the photo was taken around 1977/8.
I was going through some old images recently and found these.
The Rikki Alan Trio was my first Pro group. We formed in about 1957 and used to play all the rock numbers of the day and especially the Everly Bros. Both Rikki (bass) and Gerry (guitar and Piano) were brothers and the close harmony was excellent.
Next came the Interns. This band was sponsored by Ivor Arbiter, he was the man who got Ringo to play Ludwig drums. Those eagle eyed amongst you will notice that the Interns logo on my bass drum is not dissimilar to the Beatles logo. That is because both logos were painted by the same guy. A one armed sign writer who worked for Ivor at Drum City in London in the 1960’s. It’s amazing when you think that today, millions of pounds can be spent on designing the most effective logo and yet back then, it was designed by the sign-writer and the Beatles just accepted it!
Next of my pics here is with the King of Skiffle Lonnie Donegan. Lonnie was never huge in the States although he did have one big hit there which was, “Does Your Spearmint Lose its Flavour on the Bedpost Overnight”. However, in Europe he was huge and has the reputation for starting the whole Beat Boom in the UK. Every kid went out and bought a guitar and formed a Skiffle Group when Lonnie’s first single ‘The Rock Island Line‘ went to No 1! Even the Beatles had a Skiffle group, they were called the Quarrymen. Many years later Singer/Actor/Record Producer Adam Faith got a whole load of the guys that were influenced by Lonnie together and they made and Album. If my memory serves me right I can recall a number of the names, Elton John, Rory Gallagher and Brian May plus a whole bunch more. Sadly Lonnie passed away in 2002 from heart problems, he had , had three heart bypasses in previous years.
I have some great memories of working with Lon at some of the greatest venues in the world, including the Riviera Hotel in Vegas for a couple years on the trot. The Greek Theatre in LA, Harrah’s Hotel in Lake Tahoe, The London Palladium, The Talk of The Town London, with Judy Garland and in Australia, Iceland, and all over Europe. Many stories to be told, stories of working with (either playing for or supporting) Dusty Springfield, Ray Charles, Count Basie, Vic Damone, Judy Garland, Englebert Humperdinck, Dean Martin, Bill Haley and Little Richard to name just a few. A great way for a young guy from a small town in Wales to grow up. And a number of coincidences of which I intend to post at a later date.
I know, it’s been an age in between posts! But I have finally found a few minutes to jot something down.
During my recent trip to the Golden Valley, I was fortunate enough to actually get out and explore the immediate vicinity, (my apologies if I repeat myself here and there).
You will recall that I went to a village in the Valley known as Vowchurch. Well this time out I went in the opposite direction and visited Peterchurch. Then the next time went back to Vowchurch and then on to the next little village which really was like stepping back in time. However, the first thing that I saw as I entered Peterchurch was a Second WW US Army Ambulance up on a ramp! Not something I expected to find in the depths of darkest Herefordshire.
Kind of weird really and something that made me stop in my tracks and just look at it, and wondered who would have driven it etc.
Immediately opposite the truck was the church of Peterchurch. This was a bigger one than the previous church I had visited but part of the same group (not the correct term I know) and administered by the same clergy. In front of the church was a magnificent example of an ancient Yew tree. The tree is recorded as being at least 850 years old! Apparently, in the Middle Ages many of the churches were used as a refuge and ‘forts’ as the villages were regularly raided by Celtic warriors from over the border in Wales. The main weapon of the day was the bow and arrow and, what wood do you think the bows were made from? Yes absolutely correct Yew. So that it is why in most of the church yards in the UK you will find a really old Yew tree in the yard.
The next village was back to Vowchurch and then on to the old village of Turnastone. As I entered the village it was just like stepping back in time, the first thing I saw was an old farmhouse. It was pretty old but also it was empty. What once was obviously a magnificent family home, was now just sitting there rotting away. From what I could gather it appeared the farm business was another victim of the current economical downturn that is affecting everyone.
Turnastone Court really would have been a beautiful place to live back in the day, and its garden backed on to the little River Dore. However, if I thought this was quaint, I wasn’t any where ready for what I was to see next.
It was almost like stepping onto and Ealing Studios British Film Set. It was absolutely wonderful, well it was for me, I must have take about 60 pics of the place from every angle.
I eventually came to St Margaret’s church and I went in side, it was a sweet little church and once again steeped in history. I took a number of photos many of which are still in the workflow but I will show them as soon as. Meanwhile, I will leave you with just one more pic. This was one I took of a memorial plaque on the wall inside the church.
It is written in old English where the ‘S’ looks like an ‘f’ and the Stonemason would abbreviate words to suit, as he was engraving to ensure it all fitted on the stone. The way that I read it is that young John Roberts Junior died just after Christmas on December 29th 1768 at the age of 22. Then just 12 days later his wife Catherine who was 25 also died as did their daughter Ann. I couldn’t find out anything out about the family or why they perished, but the Plague and the Pox were around at that time along with all the other diseases of the day, and obviously without any real pharmaceuticals to treat the illnesses with.
The poem at the bottom reads: In youthful years through pain and grief, we here retreat and find relief. Waiting in hope out of this dust, to rise and reign among the just.
As some of you may know, my dear wife is an MS sufferer. She is what is termed as Primary Progressive and is now in her 17th year. She has coped remarkably well but is now on Morphine patches to help with the pain. However, the reason I am telling you this is that, because of the Morphine, coupled with the fatigue of the illness, she tends to get knocked out! So, there was no way we were going to be able to leave for this trip before mid-afternoon, as hopefully she would be awake enough to travel by then. This we managed to achieve, we then proceeded to tow the Caravan up to the Golden Valley which is about an hour and a half’s journey, which is about the limit for Ondrea.
When we arrived it was freezing cold and dark – nothing worse than trying to site a Caravan in the dark. However, it didn’t take too long and I had Ondrea in the van, the next thing is to get the heating on and the hot water. After messing about and scratching my head for nearly 4 hours, I managed the heating and hot water task. I had made a major slip up and forgot to check the LPG Gas before we left, and needless to say, we had ran out! I managed to get a fresh bottle and the heat was on, but that took 4 hours!! I was not the champion of the day, to say the least!!!
The next day was a little warmer and by this time the van was warm and snug. We had breakfast and then I planned to go and explore the area leaving Ondrea with her Kindle.
The first place I found was a small village called Vowchurch. A tiny village that is mentioned in the Doomsday book albeit spelt fowchirche. As I drove into the village the first thing I spotted was this beautiful old church called St Bartholomew’s. To say it was old was an understatement. This lovely little church had been standing on the same spot, welcoming people since the early 1200’s
Now I have seen a large number of churches over the years, it is one of my delights to find a church and then try and find some of the history behind it. Having said that in more recent years, when I have attempted to enter the House of God, I usually find the door is locked! So no sanctuary there then. Imagine my surprise when I approached this ancient door and found a sign pinned to it.
Needless to say I grasped the ancient iron door handle and twisted it in it’s rattling socket. The handle must have been 200 years old if it was a day. I wondered how many people before had turned the very same handle, back in the day when there was no running water, no sewage works, no electricity. And what had they entered the church for…a happy Christening or wedding, or a sad farewell to a loved one.
As soon as I entered the church it was slightly chilly and getting dark. What struck me most was the silence and the feeling that I wasn’t alone. I know, a number of you will be saying that I was making it up because of the age of the building etc. But I promise you, the feeling in that Ancient Old English church was welcoming. I sat down in one of the pews and said a prayer. I then looked around for some information leaflets or a booklet. Once I had found it I then looked for somewhere to put a donation. Many of these old churches have iron boxes build into the stonework and you post your donation through a small slot. I found what I was looking for and made my donation.
After spending about 20 minutes in the church, I realised that I needed to get back to the Caravan site. So I said thank you to whomever may have been listening and made my exit back into the daylight.
I had a quick look around the graveyard and the ancient stone bridge that crossed the river Dore and headed off.
So, a wonderful hour spent in a time gone by, the next day I went to another village where there was an even bigger church, but more of that on another occasion. When I returned I was greeted by a chubby little Robin who just sat there and posed for me.
It is with great sadness that I have to report the the death of the great British Percussionist Peter Appleby.
As many of my readers will know Pete was the driving force behind the Lonnie Donegan Skiffle Group when I was still a lad! Previous to joining Lonnie’s band Peter played with an endless list of household names, both Jazzers and popular performers. He was with the Mick Mulligan band for over 10 years, the singer in that band was the legendary George Melly – George mentions Pete in his book. Other names that people will recognise include, The Humphrey Littleton Band, The Johnny Dankworth Orchestra and Dame Shirley Bassey.
In later years Pete devoted himself to musical education and was still teaching up to 2010. I recently received a number of emails from ex-students of Pete’s, one of which is now a Doctor of Music and he owes all his early start in music to Peter. Of course Pete didn’t only play kit, he was an all round Percussionist which included; Vibraphone, Xylophone and Tympani etc. But was more famous for his drum kit work.
I first saw Peter perform when he joined the Donegan band in 1960 and he bowled me over, little did I know then that I would end up taking over the drum chair from him with the band in the late 60’s, a hard act to follow as any musician who has worked with Lonnie will tell you.For the past 30 years – give or take – Peter has been happily married to wife June. Although they had known each for many years before that when June was also in show-business as a professional dancer. For the past number of years Peter had been ill on a number of occasions suffering with a serious chest complaint and even beating Bladder Cancer in 2010 with the ever stalwart care, love and dedication of June.
It was Saturday the 28th January 2012 that Pete passed away in the Middlesborough Hospital, June having called the Paramedics when Pete started having breathing problems the previous evening.
It was reported that Pete died peacefully in his sleep with June by his side.